Faculty Adviser:
Jim Schwab, Ph.D.

Doctoral Researcher:
Elissa Madden

Duration: 2008-2009

Currently, there is limited empirical evidence regarding the effect that mediation has in reducing the amount of time children spend in foster care. Research on child protection mediation to date has focused on settlement rates, the amount of time saved over traditional case litigation, and parental satisfaction with the process. While a number of process evaluations have been conducted to determine the overall effectiveness in meeting short-term objectives, few empirical studies have been conducted to determine the outcomes and overall effectiveness of mediation beyond these limited measures. The proposed study intends to address gaps in the existing research by evaluating the long-term outcomes of mediation with regard to expediting permanency for children in foster care.

The study will utilize secondary analysis of existing data compiled by the Center for Public Policy Dispute Resolution (CPPDR) to investigate permanency and placement outcomes for children whose families participated in child protection mediation in Texas between 1999 and 2005.

While gains have been made in identifying the short-term benefits of mediation in child protection cases, this research provides a unique opportunity to identify factors that contribute to successful long-term permanency and placement outcomes. The findings of this research may have important practice and policy implications for child protection and family courts in Texas, as it will help identify the types of child protection cases that are most likely to be resolved through mediation. In addition, this study will help clarify the point in a child protection case when families are most likely to benefit from participation in mediation.

Texas Office of Court Administration / The Supreme Court of Texas